Help Save a Wonderful Life. Andy Hopper Needs Us.

This is your chance to help George Bailey. Let me explain.

I have always been a sucker for It’s a Wonderful Life.

As with all great movies, the best part comes at the end. George Bailey has spent his life putting his dreams on hold, helping his family and friends around him, all the while watching as his hopes to leave Bedford Falls and make something more of himself recede.

But it looks like it’s all come to ruin. All he can manage is a leaky old house for his loving wife and kids. The business his father left him, the Bailey Building and Loan and THE hope of the town, is going bankrupt because his uncle/partner screwed up. Now they both face jail.

George comes home, preparing to break the news to his family. All his years of strife and sacrifice and struggle have come to worse than nothing.

But when he walks in, he finds his wife and friends already knew. They knew he needed help. They knew what he had always meant to the town, but had never thanked him. The movie ends with a shower of help and money (to save the Bailey Building and Loan) and a crowd saying thanks for all he’d ever done and that they’d never put into words.

Well, now is your chance to help George Bailey. But this one is from Paradise and his name is Andy Hopper.

Those in the Paradise High School Football community know some of this story. In some ways Hopper has been at the heart of this wonderful Bobcat comeback, all while suffering a heart attack and two open heart surgeries.

He needs our help. So watch this video, and then follow this link to help:

Over the last year, we’ve all learned what it means for friends, neighbors and strangers to reach out in a time of need. Some of us are back on our feet enough to start giving to others, so let’s do it.

Let’s give Andy Hopper his George Bailey moment.

Better than a Championship

Invincible Bobcats helped resurrect a community

This morning, I suspect the players and coaches of the Paradise High School Bobcats are unhappy, but they should be proud.

What they gave the communities of the Paradise Ridge is something better than a Championship. I hope they know it. Through their disappointment, I hope they hear this.

In researching for Three Days in Paradise, I’ve come across dozens of old west mining towns in Butte County’s early days. Most of them are unknown.

I’ve found one thing separates settlements which become communities and those that fade into ghost towns. It’s schools.

All budding towns open bars, general stores, hotels and even a town hall. It’s the ones with schools that remain. Schools aren’t for the towns of today. They and their students are the town of tomorrow… the citizens, leaders, business people who will enrich and improve the town long after all the founders are gone.

Schools and the families they make possible, are the thing that separates a collection of buildings from a civilized town. Schools are how a town shows hope.

In the days, weeks and months after the fire, I interviewed dozens and met hundreds of survivors, recovery workers and public and private leaders. On camera and off they talked about, worried about, wondered about whether a community like Paradise could rise from the blow we had taken.

Yes, people vowed to rebuild, some businesses opened, but in whispers and wonders from across the spectrum I heard real worries from smart, informed people about the possibility Paradise would fade.

Then the schools re-opened in August, and it was a good sign.

But for many, it was the first game of the Bobcat’s Football Season on August 23 which made what remained of Paradise feel like what we remembered of Paradise. As survivors watched, coached and played in ame after game, our battered optimism reasserted itself.

Listening to the cheers of the crowds, watching the exploits of Harrison and Blood, Bettencourt and Hartly, Velasquez and everyone else made Paradise feel like a hopeful, happy place again. Through every regular season game, they won, finishing with a 10-0 record.

Their run helped us remember we could do this. We could clear the debris, claw through the heartache and remember those we had lost, and could have a town that felt like a place again. The Bobcats brought our eyes to the horizon again and let reminded us there is something more than ash in the future.

So they the players and coaches may not have gone to where they wanted to go this year.

But they gave us all something more dear. To do that you have to be something better than a champion.

You have to be Paradise Invincible.


Bittersweet Rebirth of Bobcats Football

So our Paradise High School Bobcats are on the front page of the Los Angeles Times.

It’s bittersweet to see their work and grit and hustle recognized, but under circumstances we would never choose.

Here’s an image of the front page, and a link to the story. It had me tearing up in the middle of a restaurant, so be careful.

The LA Times is not sold in Northern California, so yes see what we can do to get all the players/coaches their own copies.